It’s early November and I have one thing on my mind – Christmas. Not because I can’t wait to turn up the Christmas carols and bust out the tree but because I’m determined to slow down and enjoy Christmas. In this world of holiday parties, Santa sightings and gifts that cost hundreds of dollars, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the holidays. The season becomes a blur of stress and commitments with the only thing to show for it being a credit card bill as long as your arm.
As moms, we’re expected to make Christmas magical for our kids – to make lasting memories and traditions. What if we took that charge seriously? What if we dug into the real things that make this season special and got rid of the fluff. What if we had our Christmas “work” done by December 1 so we could actually focus on the things that matter? It’s not a pipe dream and I’m here to tell you how to do it!
STEP 1: Find Your Focus
Take time during the month of November to pray for the holiday season. Pray that God will use you to point others to Him, His son and the ultimate gift of salvation. Pray that he will give you wisdom on how to redirect your kids to Christ and minimize the focus on gifts and other holiday distractions. Pray for family get-togethers, especially any that you worry will be tense. Take some time with your husband to outline the priorities of your holiday season. Make sure you’re on the same page – then divide and conquer!
STEP 2: Get the Gifts
Ugh. The Christmas gift commercials have already started. Each one makes me gag a little bit. Happy families opening mountains of gifts including big screen TV’s, tablets and heaps of toys. It’s a ridiculous fantasy the retail industry sells us during the holidays.
To avoid the gift giving frenzy, sit down with your husband and come up with a budget and strategy for gifts. Who are you giving to? How much are you spending for each tier of gift giving? Then start plugging the holes. It’s never too early to start working on your gifts because then, when everyone else is haphazardly shopping and wasting precious hours of December in long lines at Target, you’ll be singing Christmas carols and making cookies secure in the fact that you have it all covered!
You’ll be amazed how many great deals will come up even in the month of November. Retail is struggling and they want to get you purchasing as soon as possible. Even if you can’t bring yourself to pull the trigger before Black Friday, having your list ready to go makes shopping a breeze! Now, don’t forget to get those gifts wrapped as soon as they come in the door! Nothing adds to holiday stress more than the mad Christmas wrapping party until 3am on Christmas Eve.
STEP 3: Plan your Season
I think we can all agree, much of what we look forward to about Christmas aren’t the scheduled events, they’re the impromptu activities like looking at Christmas lights or decorating cookies. If you wait to let those things happen naturally, the unfortunate truth is they’ll get overrun with other things. Check out my full post on prescheduling your Christmas season here but today I’ll give you the highlights.
Start by finding an old-fashioned paper calendar for the month of December, print one off the internet if you need to. Then put in all the scheduled activities that have already popped up, work parties, Church activities, kids parties, regular activities like sports, etc. Then make a list of all the non-scheduled events that are important parts of your Christmas season. Take a look at both and start cutting them back to the really important things.
Start by removing anything that could be done any time of year. Did someone invite you to a Tupperware Party? Not important right now, you can go to their next product party. Then really think about what holiday events you want to attend. The ones you really enjoy. Your work Christmas party, do you love it or just feel bad for not going? Would anyone really notice if you didn’t? You know best what you can politely decline. Once you’ve freed up some space, start actually scheduling in your fun activities. When you do this, it keeps your month from getting filled in with nice-to-do’s that take away from the really-want-to-do’s. That way, if an acquaintance calls to invite you to an impromptu party, you can legitimately say, “We’ve already got something scheduled that day, sorry!”
None of these tips are rocket science. They boil down to making a plan, in advance, and sticking to it. While I totally understand the sentiment of “we don’t do Christmas until after Thanksgiving,” that attitude might be holding you back from fully enjoying both Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you can have all the “work” of Christmas done before the Thanksgiving Turkey has even cooled, think of what you could do with the rest of your holiday season? What would you do with extra time and less stress during the holidays? Take a moment right now to schedule in a family meeting with your husband to start your holiday planning, you won’t regret it!